Off the Press

June 26, 2012

Preparing for worst-case scenario in Issaquah

Warren Kagarise
Press reporter

The earthquake existed only on paper and pixels for a brief span in early June, but the aftermath lingers.

Officials in local, regional, state and federal government participated in a drill, called the 2012 Evergreen Quake Exercise Series, to prepare for a devastating disaster in Issaquah and Western Washington.

The scenario for the exercise reads like the script for a disaster flick set in Issaquah.

The magnitude-6.7 earthquake rattled along the Seattle Fault at 8 a.m. Monday, June 4, as motorists surged on Interstate 90 and clogged city streets, en route to work and school.

The interstate turned impassable in a matter of seconds, as the exit to Front Street North and East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast crumbled.

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Issaquah joins regional earthquake-response exercise

June 5, 2012

Issaquah officials plan to participate in a regional earthquake simulation to the test the city’s response to major temblors.

The exercise, called the 2012 Evergreen Quake Exercise Series, on June 5-6 is designed to examine city, county, state, tribal and federal response plans and operations in the days immediately after major earthquakes hit the Puget Sound region.

In addition to Issaquah, six counties, more than 20 cities, several American Indian tribes, numerous private sector partners, and state and federal agencies plan to participate.

Issaquah officials last participated in a simulated earthquake exercise, called Sound Shake, in October 2010. Officials simulated the response to a magnitude 6.7 earthquake. The ersatz earthquake struck the region less than 48 hours earlier, during rush hour at 7:54 a.m. on a Tuesday.

The detailed scenario — conducted almost a decade after the magnitude 6.8 Nisqually earthquake rattled Western Washington — was crafted to include projected damage, mock TV news reports and a flurry of phone calls from other agencies, residents and journalists.

May is Volcano Awareness Month, a reminder to prepare

May 15, 2012

NEW — 4 p.m. May 15, 2012

May is Volcano Awareness Month in Washington, although no volcanoes in the Evergreen State show indications of immediate reawakening, volcanoes often give just a few days’ warning before eruptions begin.

Preparing to survive and recover from Washington’s next volcanic eruption can help keep communities safe and recover faster after the next eruption occurs.

State and U.S. Geological Survey officials commemorated the month by conducting a variety of volcano-related trainings for emergency managers, aviators, health care personnel, park interpreters and school students.

Scientists consider Washington’s large volcanic cones — Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens  — active because of recentness of eruptions, and the long-term presence of earthquakes and thermal features.

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Disaster Preparedness Month includes earthquake drill

April 3, 2012

April is Disaster Preparedness Month, and the state Emergency Management Division encourages residents to plan for natural and manmade catastrophes.

Statewide preparedness activities include a drop, cover and hold earthquake drill at 9:45 a.m. April 25. The drill is part of the monthly Emergency Alert System test for broadcasters.

Citizens can find preparedness information for businesses, homes and schools from the Emergency Management Division at www.emd.wa.gov/preparedness/prep_infocus.shtml.

“Citizens, companies and government agencies will be encouraged to review their individual preparedness plans, contact information and emergency kits, and to prepare themselves to be self-sufficient for a minimum of three days following an act of terrorism, or natural or manmade disasters,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a Disaster Preparedness Month proclamation.

State emergency planners also conduct a drop, cover and hold earthquake drill for National Preparedness Month in September.

April is Disaster Preparedness Month — no fooling

April 1, 2012

NEW — 11 a.m. April 1, 2012

April is Disaster Preparedness Month, and the state Emergency Management Division encourages residents to plan for emergencies.

Statewide preparedness activities include a drop, cover and hold earthquake drill at 9:45 a.m. April 25. The drill is part of the monthly Emergency Alert System test for broadcasters.

Citizens can find preparedness information for businesses, homes and schools from the Emergency Management Division.

“Citizens, companies and government agencies will be encouraged to review their individual preparedness plans, contact information and emergency kits, and to prepare themselves to be self-sufficient for a minimum of three days following an act of terrorism, or natural or manmade disasters,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a Disaster Preparedness Month proclamation.

State emergency planners also conduct a drop, cover and hold earthquake drill for National Preparedness Month in September.

Hazardous conditions impacted response to January storms

March 6, 2012

The battle against the elements created dangerous conditions for city crews during a snowstorm and a rare ice storm in January, officials said in a recent update on response to the storms.

City crews scrambled to keep pace as the storms battered Issaquah and the region. Sometimes, limbs crashed onto city streets mere moments after a snowplow scraped snow and ice from the surface.

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Hazardous conditions impacted response to January storms

March 5, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. March 5, 2012

The battle against the elements created dangerous conditions for city crews during a snowstorm and a rare ice storm in January, officials said in a recent update on response to the storms.

City crews scrambled to keep pace as the storms battered Issaquah and the region. Sometimes, limbs crashed onto city streets mere moments after a snowplow scraped snow and ice from the surface.

“You’d clear a road, you’d come back down and you’d have to clear your way back out the same road,” Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, said in a Feb. 28 briefing to the City Council. “Or you’d clear a road and you’d get a call from somebody else in the snowplow that said, ‘I thought you cleared this road.’ The answer is, well, we did. We were just there, but those trees were coming down so fast and frequent that it was impossible for awhile to stay on top of that.”

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Community Emergency Response Team training is available in Issaquah

February 28, 2012

Registration is open for Community Emergency Response Team training in Issaquah.

CERT training is designed to prepare residents to help family members and neighbors during a catastrophic disaster. The training is important because professional emergency services personnel cannot help everybody immediately, so citizens can use CERT training to protect and save lives.

CERT courses include disaster first aid training, disaster preparedness, basic firefighting, light search and rescue, and damage assessment skills. Participants can also learn how to turn off utilities and about the psychology of disaster response.

The training program is $35. Learn more, and register for the CERT course, at the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council website, www.issaquahcitizencorps.com/cert/cert-class. CERT training courses typically fill up quickly.

Nisqually earthquake anniversary is reminder to prepare

February 28, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Feb. 28, 2012

The ground shook for 45 stomach-churning seconds starting at 10:54 a.m. Feb. 28, 2001, as the last major earthquake to occur in the Puget Sound region rattled buildings and jangled nerves.

The earthquake cracked the Capitol dome in Olympia and caused widespread damage across the region, injured hundreds of people and left billions of dollars in property damage.

Tuesday marks 11 years since the Nisqually earthquake — a magnitude-6.8 temblor credited for changing attitudes about emergency preparedness in Issaquah, King County and statewide.

City leaders credited the temblor for alerting officials and residents to the importance of disaster preparedness and response. The city participates in regular disaster-response exercises, such as the regional Sound Shake drill.

Issaquah School District planners also learned lessons since the earthquake occurred.

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Community disaster response training is available in Issaquah

February 27, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 27, 2012

Registration is open for Community Emergency Response Team training in Issaquah.

CERT training is designed to prepare residents to help family members and neighbors during a catastrophic disaster. The training is important because professional emergency services personnel cannot help everybody immediately, so citizens can use CERT training to protect and save lives.

CERT courses include disaster first aid training, disaster preparedness, basic firefighting, light search and rescue, and damage assessment skills. Participants can also learn how to turn off utilities and the psychology behind a disaster.

The training program is $35. Learn more, and register for the CERT course, at the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council website.

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